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Importance of the Tutor in Electra

Importance of the Tutor in Electra

When delving into a novel, drama or other character-based text, analysts often focus their search around the supposed “major characters” who seem to most directly affect the work. In considering Electra, however, just as valuable as Orestes, Clytemnestra or Electra herself is a somewhat minor character, the Tutor. This attendant of Orestes emerges only three times and is on stage for less than twenty percent of the spoken lines, yet his role in driving the plot is as great as any. If Aristotle, one of the true masters of ancient thought, is correct in saying “The Plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of a tragedy,” then the Tutor can truly be considered one of the most significant characters in the entire drama.

The relationship between the Tutor and Aristotle’s conception of tragedy can be carried further, for in his Poetics Aristotle claims, “Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete and whole…A whole that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.” If this is believed, the Tutor’s appearances become an even better match for the tragic form. His three presentations on stage are quite auspicious numerically, and geometrically they form a nearly perfect spread from beginning to middle to end. With each of these appearances the Tutor sets in motion some critical aspect of the plot, thus making himself an agent of another of Aristotle’s notions: “But most important of all is the structure of the incidents. For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action.” The Tutor truly drives the action of this play, functioning as a glue to hold the plot together and as a catalyst to keep it moving forward.

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…alls him “the only one I found / Remaining loyal at our father’s murder”(1351-1352). Such an idea brings the true depth of the Tutor into the open: he is perhaps the most steadfast character in the entire drama, the one who committed himself to Orestes’ cause not out of familial obligation but simply out of loyalty. The Tutor sets this play in motion, propels it in the middle and then continues it towards its end. Such a purposeful nature contrasts greatly with Electra’s, and without the Tutor’s influence this may have simply been a fifteen hundred line saga of her personal woes. Though traditional analysis makes the Tutor’s role seem secondary, it is deceptively important, yet another deception that is quite appropriate for such an individual.

Works Cited:

Euripides. Electra. Trans. Philip Vellacott. Medea and Other Plays. Baltimore: Penguin Classics, 1963.

Legalization of Drugs Fails to Resolve Social Problems

One need only turn on the 11o’clock news to determine whether the “war on drugs” has been a success or a failure. Border police and the FBI continue to nab ever-increasing caches of illegal drugs, while our “tough on crime” policies haul thousands to jail on drug trafficking and possession charges. Yet, people young and old continue to purchase and consume large amounts of drugs for a variety of reasons, ranging from medicinal to escapism.

Even the most ardent drug enforcers have to admit that the current offensive against drugs has been a dismal failure, because the government cannot prevent what people want to do merely through laws (and their enforcement). But does this automatically mean that drugs should be legalized? We already have a case study to determine whether drug legalization policies will be successful. America’s struggles with alcohol provide a ready-made experiment in which the pros and cons of drug legalization can be measured in terms of lives affected and dollars spent.

In the early portion of the 20th century, our government responded to the demands of various temperance groups and prohibited the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. At about the same time, organized crime gained power in cities such as Chicago and New York. Since the general populace still had a voracious appetite for alcohol, gangsters such as Al Capone made millions dealing in this illicit trade. As their motive was to maximize profits regardless of cost, the gangsters handled rivals in their own, intimate way – as the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” graphically showed. The violence contributed to the eventual repeal of Prohibition laws, and America enjoyed the products of fermented grapes, wheat and…

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So, instead of changing strategy in the current war on drugs, we either doggedly try the same old tactics that fail miserably or surrender unconditionally in the name of individual “rights.” Well, what about the right of someone to drive without fear of sudden death via intoxicant? What about the baby doomed to a painful life from drug-induced ailments? What about the spouse painted black, blue and red by someone’s fists, bat or gun? Or the fan too scared to talk with a blustery drunk for fear of pulverization? Or of anyone paying higher car and health insurance rates?

A famous person once said, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In this situation, it would be doubly tragic, for “history” continues even today, instructing us on decisions of past generations. And yet once more, we’re about to fail the final exam.

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